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There’s No Place Like Home – But Is Yours Senior Safe?

Monday , April 6 , 2020

There’s No Place Like Home – But Is Yours Senior Safe?

Is aging at home a good thing? That depends! Our homes provide a sense of comfort, familiarity, and security.

But, according to one report from Age Safe America, 85% of older adults have done nothing to prepare their homes for aging in place.

Why does that matter? Because falls account for 25% of all hospital admissions and 40% of all nursing home admissions – and 56% of those falls occur in the home.

Let that sink in: More than half of all falls that result in a hospital admission happen in the home.

Luckily, steps can be taken to keep you or your older loved one safe from falls and other dangers in the house. Use this list to assess your home and keep it senior-friendly:

  1. Look for fall hazards. Falls are the leading cause of injury in older adults – and most of them occur in the home. One of the most important things you can do to make your home senior-safe is to remove fall hazards. Here are some things to look for:
    • Loose throw rugs. Rugs without non-slip backing are a serious fall risk. Also look for frayed, torn, or turned up edges, which can lead to unintentional trips and tumbles.
    • Clutter and debris. Make sure walkways and common areas are clear of items such as loose clothing and shoes, magazines, books, trash, electrical cords, and any other clutter.
    • Decorative furniture. Sure, that antique end table from Aunt Betty looks pretty . . . but it’s just one more thing to trip over.

  1. Eliminate fire risks. Did you know that people ages 65 to 74 are almost twice as likely to die in a fire, people between the ages of 75 and 84 are almost four times as likely? Therefore, keeping your home senior-safe also includes removing fire hazards. Here’s how:
    • Keep fresh batteries in the smoke and carbon monoxide detectors (experts recommend changing them twice a year, when the time changes)
    • Replace and frayed or damaged electrical cords and limit the number or cords plugged into one outlet or power strip
    • Don’t leave unattended candles burning in the home (better yet – don’t use candles at all!)
    • If you use a space heater, keep it at least three feet away from furniture, drapes, bedding, and other flammable items

  1. Safeguard the bathroom. According to the National Institute on Aging, almost 80 percent of falls by people 65 or older occur in the bathroom. Yikes! To ensure your (or your loved one’s) safety, do this:
    • Install grab bars in the shower and near the toilet
    • Consider a walk-in bathtub and a handheld shower
    • Place rubber mats in the shower to prevent slipping
    • Use a bathing chair in the shower or bathtub
    • Set the thermostat to no higher than 120 degrees Fahrenheit to prevent accidental burns
    • Replace the toilet seat with a raised toilet seat with handlebars to make it easier to sit and stand
    • Install a nightlight in the bathroom to make overnight trips to the loo a bit safer

  1. Consider the kitchen. Many adults spend a large amount of time in the kitchen. Therefore, it makes sense to make this room as safe as possible.
    • Move frequently used items to lower levels
    • If reaching for items is necessary, use a stepstool rather than standing on a chair
    • Install non-slip mats in front of the sink, stove, and any other areas where you frequently stop and stand
    • Replace standard water faucet handles with single-lever models

  1. Update lighting. The average 60-year-old needs at least three times more light than the average 20-year-old. With that in mind, look around the house: Is the lighting adequate? If not, these tips can help:
    • Replace any burnt-out light bulbs
    • Install new light fixtures or lamps in too-dim rooms
    • Install motion-detecting lights in commonly used areas (such as the bedroom and bathroom)
    • Put light switches where they’re easily accessible, for both safety and ease of use

  1. Make stairs safe. Ideally, a senior’s home would be one level – but that’s often not the case. To avoid unnecessary trips and falls, try the following:
    • Tighten and secure all stair railings. If they wiggle back and forth, they’re not going to stop a fall!
    • Use a contrasting paint color or colored tape to differentiate stair tops from risers. Many seniors have vision issues and are unable to separate one step from the next.
    • Keep the stairs (both indoors and out) clear of debris and clutter
    • Consider a stairlift if physical limitations make it difficult to climb up and down

Although this list is by no means comprehensive, it’s a great place to start! If you’re unsure of whether there are risks in your home, consider calling in a care manager – they will assess the house for safety and point out any red flags!

Posted in: Aging

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Easier Voting for Seniors

Monday , March 2 , 2020

Easier Voting for Seniors

Voting is an American right guaranteed to every citizen. Unfortunately, older adults often have a difficult time exercising this right.

There are dozens of different reasons senior citizens might not be able to make it to the polls.

Luckily, that’s not the only way to make yourself heard.

Here’s how senior citizens can continue to rock the vote, even when they can’t leave the house:

Obstacles to Voting

For older adults, there are dozens of reasons they may not be able to go to a physical polling site. Health and mobility issues, lack of transportation, and poor weather are just a few.

Other obstacles may include:

  • Inaccessible polling sites: Despite the Americans with Disabilities Act, many polling stations have stairs to climb and doorways too narrow for wheelchairs
  • Voter ID laws: 14 states have newer voter ID laws which may impact older adults who no longer drive and lack a current photo ID
  • Problems for people of color: Older people of color who were born in the South might not even have a birth certificate and often have trouble obtaining documentation

Voting Options 

  1. Absentee Voting/Mail-In Ballots

Absentee voting is an option for people who either can’t or don’t want to go to their polling place on election day. Every state has its own rules and regulations, but health issues and/or disabilities which make it difficult to get to a polling place are typically an acceptable reason to vote this way.

  1. Early Voting

Early voting is almost the same as a “regular” election day. You go to a physical polling place outside of your home to cast your vote – just a little bit earlier than everyone else.

This is often a much better option for seniors who have mobility issues, sensitivities to noise/crowds, or who need extra time, as the crowds are much lighter.

Times and locations vary from state to state, so make sure you check your local guidelines.

Voting in New Jersey

New Jersey residents have it fairly easy when it comes to voting. The Garden state offers both early voting and absentee voting, and most polling places do not require photo identification.

This year, the primary for the presidential election will take place on June 2 and the registration deadline is May 12.  Absentee ballots must be received by June 2 and the date for early voting is still pending as of this writing.

To apply for absentee voting/mail-in ballot, you can fill out this online application. ALL voters are eligible to vote absentee in New Jersey – there are no special requirements. The application must be received by county officials at least seven days prior to the election if returned by mail, or it can be turned in until 3 pm the day prior to an election if submitted in person.

Not sure if your registered to vote? Click here to check your voter status.

Don’t let mobility, health, or other issues stop you from exercising your right to vote! Make yourself heard! Your opinion matters.

Posted in: Aging

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New Year’s Resolutions for Older Adults

Monday , December 30 , 2020

New Year’s Resolutions for Older Adults

As we head into the new year, it’s an excellent time to reflect on your life. Are you happy with your health? Do you see your friends and family as often as you’d like? Do you have hobbies and activities you enjoy?

Setting new year’s resolutions may seem like a young man’s game but having goals can be especially beneficial for older adults.

In 2020, consider a resolution that focuses on eating better, improving your social life, or learning a new skill:  It will improve your wellbeing for the year to come and far beyond.

The following are our suggestions for new year’s resolutions that every senior citizen should consider:

Make Time for Daily Exercise

Studies have shown that staying physically active is the key to healthy aging. Although experts recommend getting at least 150 minutes of aerobic activity each week, any amount is beneficial. If you’re just getting started, consider a quick walk around the block – or even around your backyard.

Take up a New Hobby

For many older adults, boredom and loneliness are a real threat. Taking up a new hobby or activity can help alleviate social isolation, as well as keeping the mind and the body active. There are plenty of activities for individuals of all capabilities – from art and crafts to exercise – so there is something for everyone to enjoy.

Explore Volunteer Opportunities

During your senior years, you may have more time to dedicate to charitable causes than you did in your younger years. Doing so can provide a great sense of fulfillment in your life. Volunteering provides a way to give back to the community and support causes that are personally meaningful to you. Bonus: It also connects you to like-minded individuals and introduces new opportunities for friendship and socialization!

Learn a New Technology

Learning a new technology isn’t just a great workout for your brain – it also helps build a connection to the younger generation. Today, everything is done on a computer or cell phone. Learning how to use social media or online chat can help bridge the gap between you and your grandkids or other young family members. In addition, many new technologies can help keep senior citizens safe and healthy (the Apple Watch can do everything from detecting a fall to monitoring heart rate!).


Do Some Traveling

Whether it’s a trip across the world or a trip across the city, travel can enhance the lives of seniors in many ways. Studies have found that just three days of vacation can lower stress levels, even after vacation ends – plus, travel keeps seniors moving and active, and introduces more opportunities for socialization. There are dozens of tour groups that cater specifically to older adults – and if you’re unsure about travelling alone, a professional caregiver can be utilized to provide companionship and safety.

Spend More Time with the Grandkids

Research shows that grandparents who babysit their grandchildren live longer than those who do not care for anyone. In fact, they have up to a 37% lower mortality rate than people of the same age who aren’t responsible for others. Even if you don’t care for a grandchild or other young person, simply spending time with them regularly can help. And can you really think of a better way to spend your retirement??

Final Thoughts

Lots of people make New Year’s resolutions every year and don’t stick with them. This year, vow to do something that’s good for you and make it happen! Resolutions can be fun. Find a class you want to take, plan a trip, or book a monthly lunch with a friend.

Tell us: What do you have planned for the New Year that will help improve your health and happiness?

Posted in: Aging

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